Skip to comments.GOP Is Losing Its Libertarian Voters
Posted on 12/10/2006 10:04:01 PM PST by neverdem
Libertarian Party candidates may have cost Senators Jim Talent (R.-Mo.) and Conrad Burns (R.-Mont.) their seats, tipping the Senate to Democratic control.
In Montana, the Libertarian candidate got more than 10,000 votes, or 3%, while Democrat Jon Tester edged Burns by fewer than 3,000 votes. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill defeated Talent by 41,000 votes, a bit less than the 47,000 Libertarian votes.
This isnt the first time Republicans have had to worry about losing votes to Libertarian Party candidates. Senators Harry Reid (Nev.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), and Tim Johnson (S.D.) all won races in which Libertarian candidates got more votes than their winning margin.
But a narrow focus on the Libertarian Party significantly underestimates the role libertarian voters played in 2006. Most voters who hold libertarian views dont vote for the Libertarian Party. Libertarian voters likely cost Republicans the House and the Senatealso dealing blows to Republican candidates in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
In our study, The Libertarian Vote, we analyzed 16 years of polling data and found that libertarians constituted 13% of the electorate in 2004. Because libertarians are better educated and more likely to vote, they were 15% of actual voters.
Libertarians are broadly defined as people who favor less government in both economic and personal issues. They might be summed up as fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters.
In the past, our research shows, most libertarians voted Republican72% for George W. Bush in 2000, for instance, with only 20 percent for Al Gore, and 70% for Republican congressional candidates in 2002. But in 2004, presumably turned off by war, wiretapping, and welfare-state spending sprees, they shifted sharply toward the Democrats. John F. Kerry got 38% of the libertarian vote. That was a dramatic swing that Republican strategists should have noticed. But somehow the libertarian vote has remained hidden in plain sight.
This year we commissioned a nationwide post-election survey of 1013 voters from Zogby International. We again found that 15 percent of the voters held libertarian views. We also found a further swing of libertarians away from Republican candidates. In 2006, libertarians voted 59% to 36% for Republican congressional candidatesa 24-point swing from the 2002 mid-term election. To put this in perspective, front-page stories since the election have reported the dramatic 7-point shift of white conservative evangelicals away from the Republicans. The libertarian vote is about the same size as the religious right vote measured in exit polls, and it is subject to swings more than three times as large.
Based on the turnout in 2004, Bushs margin over Kerry dropped by 4.8 million votes among libertarians. Had he held his libertarian supporters, he would have won a smashing reelection rather than squeaking by in Ohio.
President Bush and the congressional Republicans left no libertarian button unpushed in the past six years: soaring spending, expansion of entitlements, federalization of education, cracking down on state medical marijuana initiatives, Sarbanes-Oxley, gay marriage bans, stem cell research restrictions, wiretapping, incarcerating U.S. citizens without a lawyer, unprecedented executive powers, and of course an unnecessary and apparently futile war. The striking thing may be that after all that, Democrats still looked worse to a majority of libertarians.
Because libertarians tend to be younger and better educated than the average voter, theyre not going away. Theyre an appealing target for Democrats, but they are essential to future Republican successes. Republicans can win the South without libertarians. But this was the year that New Hampshire and the Mountain West turned purple if not blue, and libertarians played a big role there. New Hampshire may be the most libertarian state in the country; this year both the states Republican congressmen lost.
Meanwhile, in the Goldwateresque, leave us alone Mountain West, Republicans not only lost the Montana Senate seat; they also lost the governorship of Colorado, two House seats in Arizona, and one in Colorado. They had close calls in the Arizona Senate race and House races in Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Dick Cheneys Wyoming. In libertarian Nevada, the Republican candidate for governor won less than a majority against a Democrat who promised to keep the government out of guns, abortion, and gay marriage. Arizona also became the first state to vote down a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Presidential candidates might note that even in Iowa libertarians helped vote out a Republican congressman who championed the Internet gambling ban.
If Republicans cant win New Hampshire and the Mountain West, they cant win a national majority. And they cant win those states without libertarian votes. Theyre going to need to stop scaring libertarian, centrist, and independent voters with their social-conservative obsessions and become once again the party of fiscal responsibility. In a Newsweek poll just before the election, 47% of respondents said they trusted the Democrats more on federal spending and the deficit, compared to just 31% who trusted the Republicans. Thats not Ronald Reagans Republican Party.
One more bit from our post-election Zogby poll: We asked voters if they considered themselves fiscally conservative and socially liberal. A whopping 59% said they did. When we added to the question also known as libertarian, 44% still claimed that description. Thats too many voters for any party to ignore.
Rep. Barbara Cubin (R.-Wyo.) told her Libertarian challenger after a debate, If you werent sitting in that [wheel]chair, Id slap you. It took 10 days to certify her re-election, perhaps because that Libertarian took more than 7,000 votes. A better strategy for her and other Republicans would be to try to woo libertarians back.
Yeah...suuuuure they are.
Zogby is a joke if he believes this is an accurate reading of the public's true feelings and positions. 44% Libertarians? Gimme a break.
Old FRiend, I do not even want to touch this one. (Chuckling)
Oh GOP isn't losing libertarian voters, they vote on specific issues and individules. If GOP candidates wants them they have to run like true Republicans.
I could never figure why anyone votes libertarian. You might as well stay home.
Libertarians don't vote for Libertarians?
They only bitch and moan on chat sites.
Unless I read it wrong, what this article seems to presume is that libertarians and conservative evangelicals abandoned republicans to vote for democrats. This makes no sense at all. I presume what happened is that libertarians voted libertarian and "conservative evangelicals" stayed home.
While both the actions were, objectively, votes for dims and terrorists, they still indicate a need for more, not less conservatism from the republican party.
And smoke doobies.
They have chat sites too?
Wish they'd restrict themselves to those sites and spare this forum.
Repeated in bold, in case anyone missed it.
"But in 2004, presumably turned off by war, wiretapping, and welfare-state spending sprees, they shifted sharply toward the Democrats. John F. Kerry got 38% of the libertarian vote."
I don't buy it. You mean to tell me that if one is disgusted by Bush due to his many liberal policies, 38% of Libertarians will thus vote for a candidate that will make things that much worse? Sorry. No sale.
Other than that, the GOP needs to get back to its libertarian positions of smaller govt and reduced spending.
Dude, doobies are like so 70's man.
Some of these criticisms are legitimate, but I take special exception to two:
These guys aren't fooling anyone who knows a thing or two about libertarianism. It is a shame that the libertarian movement has been hijacked by people who seem primarily interested in drug legalization at the expense of every other issue.
That's what they think this place is.
And I liked them better before Michael McDonald.
They're in for a rude awakening.
I think there's a lot of truth in this article. But do the "social conservatives" even care. We shall see...
This place is THE place for political chat. Practically no one on this site is willing to go to freeps and attend activism events anymore. We will fix the world via a keyboard and my most profound post! Just wait until Reid reads what I just said! That'll fix him for good! Can you imagine the march for justice ala 2006? LOL, we'd get 10 people.
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